If Only Michelle Obama Were Mrs. Bouteflika!



No man can fully develop without the firm and continuous support of a woman!

It’s well known that Bill Clinton owes his ascension to the White House to his wife Hillary. During his time in office, a funny anecdote was circulating about this uncommon political and conjugal couple: While driving their car, Bill and Hillary stop at a gas station to fill up. The attendant recognizes Hillary right away and, while filling their tank, talks to her with such enthusiasm and excitement that Bill, intrigued, asks bluntly — away from the pump — “Who is this guy, Hillary?” “Oh, just a childhood friend who wanted to marry me when we were teenagers.” Bill laughs and replies: “Oh darling, do you realize what bad shape you’d be in now if you’d ended up with a guy like that? A gas station attendant? Hahahaha … ” Hillary looks at him and responds, “If I had married that man, Bill, he would be president.”

It goes without saying that Mother Nature made no mistake in pairing the male together with the female — the smaller half, the alter ego inclined to accompany man’s every move, every decisive step of life’s struggle to survive in a world that is increasingly hostile and malicious. There is no lack of examples that demonstrate that even the most unlikely designs to achieve the firmament of universal Atticism — especially those that require the ability and power to govern men and peoples, as they should be deployed around the world — almost always depend on the support of an intelligent woman.

It’s said, although not always admitted, that behind every great man, there’s a woman, and Michelle Obama just provided the most eloquent proof. To dare visit the new king of Saudi Arabia casually and lightly dressed, hair exposed and without a headscarf — in a society that still intellectually lives in the stone age — is a feat that is impossible not to salute. Mrs. Obama, by choosing not to give in to backward rules and customs that relegate women to our familiar inferior status, threw a sacred cat among the pigeons of the obscurantist feminine condition associated with all Muslim countries. It is hoped that this small step will result in a primer of strong demands to change the attitudes that are paralyzed by a macho and excessively misogynistic Sharia, which no one seems to question.

It makes you wonder whether any self-respecting companions really share the lives of the leaders of the countries of the Maghreb and the East as they have kept things so fixed and immovable for many centuries. Not, of course, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the little dictator who has never shared his life with any partner able to infuse him with the clarity needed to properly run our country! Full of his little self, it must certainly be said that no woman deserves him, especially since, in his little enlightened head, the Algerian people — men, women and children included — are swimming in chronic mediocrity that he alone was able to restore more than 15 years ago. The military gave him 15 years of power and 15 years to make us even more mediocre than we were in 1999. Who could deny it? Like in all Muslim countries, for leaders of the Bouteflika era the woman is synonymous with furtive pleasure, to be consumed without moderation. We know that, at the state level, the foreign minister under Boumediene used and abused women without the least restraint.* In those times, his escapades made headlines in even the most reserved newspapers. On the other hand, a Woman with a capital “W,” one that would have altered Algeria’s fate, one that would have brought happiness to the people, never gravitated toward this little heartless, remorseless monarch. And neither the small Khalida nor the greater Zohra, who occupied the sphere of power for many years, could deny it.** And to think that even behind Hitler there was a woman to calm his tyrannical passions. Who will calm those of Bouteflika and his clan?

That’s where we are right to ask the question and debate the relevance of a juvenile, in the intellectual sense of the word, commanding a nation while stripped of half of his capacity to run a country, the little half that transforms the small “m” and the small “f” of “man’s fate” to a capital “M” and a capital “F.”

In the Gulf countries in general, particularly in Saudi Arabia, it’s clear that such philosophies of governance, dating back to the year 622, when women were relegated to the status of sub-citizen for life, are untouchable. But Michelle Obama just took a small step that will go down in history as the step of a giant, one that will free the Muslim woman from her subject status and transport her to a position of equality with men, so that she can finally participate in the construction of a modern society that does not neglect the fundamental role of women. How do we continue to refute the idea that any evolved society can succeed without the active participation of its other constituents, at all levels of society? The woman represents both impetus and stimulation, of which she alone possesses the secrets necessary to boost the development of man. Will Muslims understand this one day? Evidently, a mixed space such as this goes against the Mohammedan message, but isn’t it time — and urgent — for countries guided by the Quran to understand that their salvation, and that of their people, can never occur while neglecting half of humanity –— the half that isn’t stupid, no less? Besides, of course, Madame Thatcher, Renaud would add.

“What would I be without you?” sang Jean Ferrat, under the name Aragon, more than 40 years ago, to tell us that happiness doesn’t exist in our dreams or in the clouds. Does it sometimes happen that Muslim men look in their wives’ eyes to say with the necessary tenderness and affection: “What would I be without you who came to meet me? What would I be but a soul sleeping in the woods?” And the courage to add: Even if I must go to hell, the paradise that you have given me on earth cannot exist anywhere else, be it with Allah, Zeus or Jupiter! Obama must say it to Michelle every God-given day! Why not us, you, me, Mohand, Larbi, Chaavane and the others?

If only our country had a father! A father who would deliver a single speech to all the children of Algeria: You will be a man, my son, the day that you no longer put anyone before the unique origin of the world — the woman — and the woman that will continue the world for us, your wife! The future will only be more promising for you and your posterity, as well as that of our mothers, our grandmothers, our foremothers and our forefathers. On that day, you will bring us honor! On that day, my son, we will all be proud of you!

Will such a father for our nation one day sprout from the earth? If that’s the case, he will probably not be named Bouteflika!

*Editor’s note: Houari Boumediene was the president of Algeria from 1976 to 1978. The “foreign affairs minister” which the article refers to is Bouteflika.

**Editor’s note: The author is most likely referring to Khalida Toumi, who is Algeria’s minister of culture and Zohra Drif, the widow of Algeria’s former president, Rabah Bitat.

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